Jormungand Manga, Volume 2 (English)

April 28th, 2010

In Volume 1 of Jormungand, we determined that this series is a fun, sometimes funny, light-hearted look at an occupation with is not at all funny and very definitely full of dark hearts, dealers of arms. In Volume 2, it’s more of the same.

There’s a certain amount of philosophical rambling I’m willing to put up with in stories of people with no ethical underpinnings. It’s interesting to watch authors struggle with the “why” someone would do something so awful and interesting to see that they often have to create a kind of cheerful nihilism to explain it, so that their characters remain likable while slaughtering people. It’s an interesting set of hoops that I have also occasionally jumped through – no less interesting when I have been jumping through them. How does one create damaged goods that are still charming? Well, first, you give them a philosophy that precludes selfishness. They must not just be in it for what they can get, or we won’t give a shit. Then you bond them into a team that not only takes care of one another – they must like and respect one another, so we are assured that they have some humanity left. Then – and this is the most important part – give each of them a moment of honest frailty and a sense of humor about it. Without the sense of humor about their frailty, they become a tragic figure. And the moment that happens, they must die.

Jormungand‘s cast has all these things. They are loyal, they don’t have noble ideals at all, but they are perfectly aware of what they do and why and what it really means – which is nothing at all. They don’t live in the center of their universe. They are a team that respects and likes one another and because Koko doesn’t take herself seriously, they are relived of having to take themselves seriously. Because Koko likes Jonah, they all rally around him as a surrogate family. Koko is the center of their universe and ours. They live or die by her command and we enjoy this story because she enjoys being in it. Without that, our interest would die.

I am pleased that Valmet has a delusion about being in love with Koko, because it allows me to review this manga here. I’m also pleased that she’s not shy about it, because it serves the plot that she is not. I am perfectly content that it is one-sided, because it is amusing without asking me to commit any emotional resources to it.

Like Dogs, Bullets and Carnage and Black Lagoon, the story will sometimes examine a piece of the damage that makes up the past of the one of characters, but is strongest when that’s thrown that aside for an equipment jargon- and obscenity-laced, physics-defying fight. That is why we read it. To have the  fights that we cannot – to be the hard-assed, highly-skilled killers that we can never be (and really don’t want to be, but it feels good to sometimes think about it.)

I like Jormungand and not at all despite myself. I grew up on a steady diet of action flicks and adventure books. This is the kind of stuff I choose to read when I am free from reading horrible ecchi Yuri romances that make me want to sob, because they fail on every level of storytelling. (What I would give for Komari to return to the dorm in Gokujou Drops with one of Koko’s guns and resolve the matter of the ongoing sexual harassment permanently.) This manga is a rollicking adventure story, where the bad guys are the good guys and there are no good guys and no one wins.


Art – 7
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Yuri – 3
Service – 3

Overall – 8

Whether you read it for the amusing attempt at philosophical discourse, the Yuri, the humor, the action or the exercise in trying to make killing people not so bad in your head for a little while, Jormungand is stupid. But it’s fun stupid and that’s all that matters.

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17 Responses

  1. Phoenix says:

    I’m not sure if it’s my first movie/book/whatever, but the Gun Kata from the movie Equilibrium always makes me go “woah.”

    Thanks for running the contest! I’m usually just a lurker around here, but enjoy reading your reviews. Though, it does tend to hurt my wallet. :-)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Five on a Treasure Island, from the Famous Five Series: I was 11 years old and already wishing to be like George, stomp around in men’s clothes, with a man’s name, and not give a shit.
    Yay for proto-dykes.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Because I am also a retard I forgot to mention the part where she kicks the crap out of grown-up men, which was the main thrust of the message. Dear me.


  4. Mara says:

    I’m going to enter something from last season, Book of Bantoora when Enlike fights the Governor of Paradise. (paraphrasing)

    Enlike: ‘There is one thing you cannot see.’

    GoP: ‘What would that be? Would it be love? Justice? Perhaps a person’s heart?”

    Enlike: ‘The sky.’

    Cue a gigantic thundercloud satellite striking GoP. More of a cool thing to say than an actual method but it still sticks in my mind five weeks into a new season.

  5. Ana Marie says:

    Indiana Jones ^^

    I remember watching this when I was really little and I can imagine the scene vividly as a duel sword wielding psycho starts showing off these insane moves with flailing and tossing sword leetness :p and Indiana Jones whips out his pistol and shoots the guy dead…that was the coolest scene ever lol

  6. Marbleshoot says:

    Mai-Chan’s Daily Life. Figured it would be pretty to beat the living shit out of someone, and not have to worry about the person dying. It must be a great way of relieving stress.

  7. EndlessD says:

    I think it might have been Animorphs. I was a sci-fi nerd back then and the idea of transforming into different animals to fight against an alien race was awesome. Guns are not the coolest weapons. Swords, claws, fangs, etc, and the animorphs had all of that (‘cept swords). The way that they were described, the human selves sharing the body with the animal minds. There’s a great part in one of the books where a creepy guy is following one of the girls, telling her to talk to him and she’s not afraid because she knows she can protect herself. You don’t need an external weapon. ^^


  8. LeVar says:

    It would be Star Wars, the original trilogy, for me. Sure, it didn’t have the choreographic swordplay that Episodes 1-3 ended up having, but it was straight-up swashbuckling swordplay and I liked it! Plus, it established the lightsaber as the coolest weapon ever.

  9. b says:

    Mynameisb1984, As far back as I can remember the first time I watched Top Gun all I wanted to do was fly jet fighters. I even got into the Air Force Academy before my knee got blown out. However, the speed, the helmets, and the jets are so cool.

  10. michiru42 says:

    Hmm…probably X-Men, the comic book, at age eleven or twelve as I watched Psylocke ninja-slice men while wearing almost nothing. :D It looked epically cool at that age.

  11. Anonymous says:

    For me it would definitely have to be Pink Floyd’s The Wall, never has a movie made being a facist and having severe psychological problems look so awesome– guessing it has to be the music

  12. Richard Beaubien says:

    I’d have to say Robocop when I was 12. It was just cool watching Robocop take out all the bad guys and the blood and the gore was a bit of a selling point. The social commentary went over my head at the time though.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I grew up reading comics, and whether comic or movie I always found it disappointing that the hero or MC/anti-hero had to avoid the simple expedient of beating the bad guys to protoplasm. Even in more modern, western works, when the MC goes postal, it takes a heckovalot to get them there. In contrast, Darker than Black/ Jet Black flowers was/is cheerfully amoral. Kick some rapists to death, then kick the coach to death. The secondary, ex-MC ties to stop her – same ol same ol.. too bad, even stungunned, she REFLEXIVLY kicks coach to death !
    No massive “unforgiven” buildup. No &^%*% stations of the cross, just splat! I have rec’d this to a librarian I know who must hunt down new manga. Funny thing is, someone else had already rec’d it for the same reason.

  14. Michelle says:

    Natural-Born Killers for me! I remember leaving the theatre feeling a bit like I wanted to perpetrate some violence myself (I didn’t).

  15. Ayana Mudou says:

    Not sure if it was my first , but I loved “Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain” hos she liked helping others and staying anonymous, as well as finding love in the more unexpected places.

  16. Kill Bill Volume 1. Yes, it was a revenge flick, but Kiddo was originally an assassin, and she loved what she did until she became pregnant. The movie has some of the best action/death/gore scenes I’ve ever seen, with characters who love killing.

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